This regional holiday is always celebrated on June 13. It is the Feast day of St. Anthony and commemorates his death in 1231.
Saint Anthony of Pauda (15 August 1195 – 13 June 1231) was a Portuguese Catholic priest and Franciscan friar who became a saint in 1232 and made a Doctor of the Church in 1946.
Also known as Anthony of Lisbon, he is the patron saint of Portugal as well as the patron saint of people who lose things and of children.
St. Anthony of Padua was born in Lisbon, Portugal to a wealthy family; his father was a captain in the Royal army. He was ordained as a priest and became inspired after meeting five Franciscan friars who were on their way to Muslim Morocco to preach the Gospel. A few months later he discovered that the monks were martyred and he joined the Franciscan order to follow in their path, adopting the name of Anthony, after Anthony the Great, who was one of the first monks and noted for his travels in desert lands.
Anthony's life was changed when he was almost accidently forced into giving a sermon. This uncovered his great gift for making speeches which led to Saint Francis asking him to travel round Italy preaching the Gospel which he did. He converted many people and became famed for his sermons.
Many miracles are assigned to Saint Anthony and he is often referred to as the 'The Saint of Miracles' or 'the Wonder Worker'.
He was canonized less than a year after his death by Pope Gregory IX on 30 May 1232. This is the second fastest canonization ever.
In his hometown of Lisbon , festivities in his honor start in the evening of June 12 with a display of walking groups of singers and musicians, who parade along the Avenida da Liberdade. The celebration continues the next day with more processions and traditional dancing.
During his lifetime, Anthony was know for his skills at reconciling couples. This has led to him being known as a marriage saint. A custom on St. Anthony's Eve (June 12) is for young people to write letters asking Antonio for help in finding a partner. In Lisbon, it is the custom that 13 couples get married on Saint Anthony's Day with all the expenses being paid by the city council.
He is especially invoked in prayer for help in recovering lost items. He is said to have got this role when someone stole a very important prayer book that had many of Anthony's handwritten sermon notes in it. Anthony prayed so hard for the return of the book that the thief was struck with guilt and returned to the Anthony's monastery to give back the book. Since then, he's been associated with finding lost or stolen items.
In Portugal during the month of June, there are festivals related to three popular saints; Saint Anthony, Saint John and Saint Peter. During the festivities are many weddings, traditional street dances and fireworks.